Valentine’s Day: What’s the Big Deal?
Is V-Day really that different for the singleton than the one in the long-term relationship? Two women give their honest opinion on life at both ends of the spectrum. Caitlin McBride opens up about being single this Valentine’s Day, while Vicki Notaro gives an insight into her seven-year relationship and their approach to February 14th.
SINGLETON: CAITLIN MCBRIDE
I would really appreciate it if businesses would stop e-mailing, texting and Facebooking to remind me of the ‘special deals’ they’re offering for Valentine’s Day. I don’t need to avail of a last-minute bargain of red roses, a fancy dinner, a night away or whatever it is the kids are doing these days. Not just because I’m single, but because I’m practical.
I’m approaching 2013 in very much a ‘new year, new me’, fashion, the impetus being that I recently started a new job working for this very website. In my last workplace, I was something of an outsider. Out of approximately 35 employees, the ratio of those in relationships essentially worked out at 34: me. Really, it was strange. And if you ask me, it has to be something of a statistical anomaly. At 25 years old, I’ve never felt like a freak of nature before for being single. Everyone is at some stage in their lives…even if it is just in childhood.
I’ve spent most of my life without a boyfriend and there’s only ever been one that even made an impact. Before that, I was single for about five years; during which time, I never even thought of Valentine’s Day as a big deal. And my attitude to the day hasn’t changed much since.
There’s the part of me that wants to receive flowers, be treated to dinner, hell, even a wolf whistle from construction workers would give me a much-needed ego boost at this stage. But it shouldn’t be restricted to one night of the year. Call me old fashioned, but I’d like my other half (in this case, he’s imaginary…and very, very sexy) to treat me nicely all year round. I know, how high maintenance of me.
I won’t be going to any pub or nightclub among a barrage of desperados getting hammered on Thursday night for a one night fix, just because of the day that’s in it. You can do that in Copper’s any night of the year.
I’m not alone though. Most of my friends in relationships won’t be celebrating V-Day. In fact, my date for Valentine’s night is a pal who’s in a long-term relationship, but her boyfriend is working all evening. Our date will likely consist of her cooking me dinner and me buying her flowers. This is something that we normally do, even when it’s not February 14th. We really are a very happy couple, if I’m being honest.
If you ask me, the only people that really benefit from Valentine’s Day are single men. When you’re in a relationship, no matter how much of an effort you put in, it’ll never be up to scratch to what your partner is anticipating. Not so, if you’re footloose and fancy free. It’s a pretty common fact that it’s easy for women to get any kind of ‘activity’ from a man if she wants, and it’s significantly harder for the gentleman folk.
But for this one night of the year, societal pressures have done the grunt work for them. A girl who might be normally picky will all of a sudden forget her standards just so she doesn’t have to be alone on Valentine’s Day. At the end of the day, all I’m saying is, thank God it’s not on a Saturday night. Harcourt Street couldn’t handle it. I definitely couldn’t.
IN A SEVEN YEAR RELATIONSHIP: VICKI NOTARO
This February 14th will be my seventh Valentine's Day with my beloved. I have the day marked in my Filofax with a little pink heart, but that sadly pales in comparison to the massive PANCAKE DAY scribbled across Tuesday the 12th complete with a drawing of a pan. One glance at my week-on-two-pages diary folks, and you can see where my heart truly lies.
That's not to say I'm not mad about my beau, not at all. What I'm not mad about is Valentine's Day as a concept. Enforced romance is not my cup of tea, and is akin to New Year's Eve in my mind - I hate feeling like I have to celebrate something, just because everybody else is. Sure, it's nice to have an excuse to be extra sweet to the person you love, but Valentine's Day often becomes an exercise in one-upmanship. You think you're great with your long-stemmed red rose, until Aisling next to you at work gets a massive bouquet, teddy and chocolates and you start resenting the boyfriend who was the best thing since sliced bread that morning.
I'm already dreading Instagram on Thursday - my feed is going to be an interminable batch of filtered pictures of the same M&S stuffed animal and different varieties of rip-off roses, coupled with heart emojis and declarations of adoration. Vomit. If that's how I feel, ensconced in a long-term relationship, spare a thought for the singletons among us. V-day is an opportunity for the smugly coupled-up to reign, to attempt to out-do one another and to shove it down our throats. I can't think of anything worse than cramming into an overpriced restaurant for a two-hour slot on a Thursday night, just so I can say I did something. Valentine's Day is not an actual occasion guys, like Christmas or er, Pancake Tuesday. It's just a Thursday, and your fella is actually more likely to be feeling irritated than amorous, having splashed €75 on wilting flowers.
Now, I will admit that myself and himself are a bit lacksadaisy. We were in New York for V-day a few years back, and I had great plans of travelling up the Empire State Building a la Sleepless in Seattle, but on the day, we just couldn't be bothered as it was bloody cold enough on the ground. We ended up sharing wings and twisty fries in the Hooters around the corner, and that's us in a nut shell. Low maintenance, on the same wavelength and equally into junk food. However, as fun as that was at the time, not making an effort is a slippery slope, and I don't want us to become accustomed to not bothering. Romance may not be dead in our house, but it could do with an oul' root up the arse from time to time.
Still, while I am often drawn to clever heart-themed merchandising in shops, and have been known to purchase special edition Valentine's biscuits because they're pink, I'm not expecting anything more than a card from my other half on Thursday. And sorry to disappoint you hon, but I won't be donning itchy red undies and cooking you steak in my scanties either. I'd much rather celebrate something like our anniversary because that's special to just us, than jump on the bandwagon. However, if you're very, very lucky, I might use up any pancake batter left over from Tuesday, and shape it into hearts. Now THAT is romance.